A neighbor, the son of a good friend, called several weeks ago. “Iris, my family would like to invite you to join us for lunch at Buddy’s Pizza the Saturday before Easter day.”

So, Saturday, March 30, my neighbor arrived at 12:15 p.m. for our drive south to Buddy’s. His wife and daughter drove their other car so they could grocery shop afterward for Easter dinner.

While the total of twelve arrived at the restaurant and took our place at a long table, another large party occupied a table at the entrance of the room: a family of happy parents and grandparents of three babies and a little guy about three years old who chased a girl his age.

The youngest child of three of our party was fifteen. A very mature young lady. The contrast between parties amused me as I reflected on Easters past with my three girls. I felt blessed to be in very congenial company who included me as family.

However, the little girl charmed me with her pink dress and shoes as she ran by our table repeatedly, giggling, looking back to see if her playmate pursued her. She didn’t seem phased by the fact that her hair, a mass of tangles, appeared as though her mother hadn’t brushed it for days.

I smiled, for my father filmed enough home movies of my four sisters and me with evidence of my chase and play. I also bear scars for proof. And sure enough, Dad forever captured the disastrous home permanent my mother gave me as a child. And a smile without my two front baby teeth.

Gradually, my extended family spread to Michigan’s west side to Kentucky to North Carolina. I’ve met a niece’s six daughters twice in their lives during a funeral and family reunion. I heard a nephew who lives in Nashville grows gray.

As I observed the little girl in the pink dress from my perspective as a guest of my friend’s generous family, I thanked God for their invitation. And that my youngest daughter and her dog Lily live just an hour away from my home.

That evening, I made a butter pie crust for the asparagus quiche I would make Easter day for brunch with my daughter. Easter morning, I worshipped with the congregation of Dryden Methodist Church, my first Easter Day without my husband of fifty-four years.

Afterward, filled with my mother’s love for her family and delicious, nutritious food, I put the quiche in the oven, then prepared a slaw of red cabbage, carrot, apple, green onion, dried currants, and pistachios.

My daughter arrived promptly at 2 p.m. with Lily and her neighborhood buddies, Alli (12 years old) and Stringer (13 years old).

“Dog sitting?” I asked.

She nodded.

Dear Reader, I removed the quiche from the oven when my California daughter called. “Happy Easter, Mom.”

“Happy Easter to you. Wish you were here,” I said. “Your sister brought Alli and Stringer with her and Lily.”

Indeed, our first Easter Day outnumbered by dogs.

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com